Well said, Tom Kibasi (Keir Starmer’s leadership needs an urgent course correction, 16 February). As vice-chair of South East Cornwall constituency Labour party (CLP) for five years, I can testify to the demoralising effect that Keir Starmer’s attack on Jeremy Corbyn has had on local activists. I voted for Corbyn twice. I was never a member of Momentum and I recognise that Corbynism failed as an electoral project.
I didn’t vote for Starmer but I was happy to see him elected leader. I thought he was the best-placed candidate to heal the divisions within the party. How wrong I was. Like many of my colleagues on the CLP, I now have very little enthusiasm for the party, I am no longer active in the CLP and I am concentrating on politics at a local level as a parish councillor.
I will campaign in the local elections in May, but what can I say to persuade people to vote Labour? We ought to be saying that this country needs public services that we can be proud of, that relying on the private sector is not the answer, that we want people to have secure jobs and decent pay, that we want them to have good quality houses to live in and that we will deliver real change with the Green New Deal. We need a vision that is articulated with passion. The lawyerly dismantling of Boris Johnson at parliamentary questions is no substitute for leadership.
• Doubtless, Keir Starmer was keen not to make the front pages of the tabloids on Friday morning with a speech mentioning the need for tax rises or increased spending, but by making his “headline proposal” anything but, the Labour leader wasted his opportunity.
Shouldn’t any “partnership with businesses” be conditional on businesses paying their taxes in full, paying wages above the legal minimum, ending their short-termism by investing in apprenticeships and technology, and having sensible pay ratios (Starmer: Labour must work with business to create fairer society, 18 February)?
Omitting any mention of the need to tackle high rents and the shortage of affordable housing has to be a mistake. He cannot take anyone’s vote for granted, especially those of the young.
• Keir Starmer is adopting the tactic of an eminent and seasoned lawyer and your editorial is quite right to note that Labour’s journey to power is a marathon not a sprint (18 February).
The next scheduled general election is 2 May 2024, over 1,100 days away, and Starmer’s aim must be to persuade the electorate to put a cross in the Labour box on that day. By then Boris Johnson and co will be tired and spent. We must all be patient. This is a campaign based on consolidation and gradual acceleration, one that Labour has to get right this time.
• Your editorial on Keir Starmer’s speech concludes: “But this is a marathon, not a sprint.” Perhaps so, but, sprint or marathon, the savvy competitor begins to run the moment the starting gun is fired.
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
• Tom Kibasi states that Keir Starmer would lose to Boris Johnson on the “who voters would rather have a pint with” test. He, and other male commentators who make this assertion, overlook the fact that over half the electorate is female.